The Legislative Digest is your weekly look at the happenings of Oklahoma’s state legislature and the bills and politics you need to know.
We’re back at school and the Oklahoma Legislature is back at work, kind of. The First Regular Session of the 57th Legislature began at noon on Jan. 8, according to Oklahoma State Legislature’s website. The first session, however, isn’t until Feb. 4.
The state legislature is divided into the Senate and the House. Much like the national Congress, each chamber has its own committees. Standing committees are permanent from year-to-year. The Senate has 14 standing committees, while the House has 14 standing committees and subcommittees. Legislators typically belong to more than one committee, but the smaller groups allow for specialization. Committees make recommendations for the chamber to consider when voting on a bill to make the process of voting in or rejecting bills.
The Tulsa World reported in November that the legislature this year is characterized by its new members. New legislators account for around a third of the legislature — 57 of the
149 total members (11 of the 48 Senators and 46 of the 101 House members). Nearly 70 percent of the 149 legislators (103 members) have four or less years of experience.
The Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, Republican Matt Pinnell, was elected in November of 2018 and takes office this week. The Lieutenant Governor is also the President of the Senate. However, the Senate elects a President Pro Tempore who acts as the president in absence of the Lieutenant Governor.
The current President Pro Tempore is Republican Greg Treat. He has been a member of the legislature since 2011 and represents District 47. His district covers northwest Oklahoma City as well as parts of Edmond, Deer Creek and Bethany. He, along with Republican Majority Leader Kim David, is an ex-efficio member of all Senate committees.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives is elected by House members and is the leader of that chamber. The Speaker is Republican Charles McCaw, a representative of District 22 elected in 2013. His district includes Atoka, Garvin, Johnston and Murray Counties. The Speaker Pro Tempore is Republican Representative Harold Wright of District 57 who was elected in 2009. His district includes Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Canadian and Custer Counties.
If you see any bills that you support or hate, contact your local Senator or Representative to express your opinion. State legislators are more receptive to local feedback, and their legislation directly impacts you. Contact information for their offices and counties can be found on the Oklahoma State Legislature’s website, oklegislature.gov.